[lg policy] South Africa: proposals on implementing a language policy sent to CHE

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jun 12 19:35:47 UTC 2009

Varsity oversight body needed, says Nzimande



THE extent of racism and other discrimination in higher education
institutions, revealed in a ministerial committee report, was “deeply
disturbing”, Higher Education and Training Minister Blade Nzimande
said yesterday.

Briefing the media on the report of the ministerial committee on
transformation and social cohesion, and the elimination of
discrimination in public higher education institutions, Nzimande said
he had considered and accepted the report and its major findings.

Most important was to establish a monitoring and oversight body to
complement the work of the Council on Higher Education (CHE) and to
deal with the challenges of transformation that were identified by the
committee as needing attention.

This oversight body would be based in the Higher Education and
Training Department, and details regarding its composition, structure,
and brief would be released in due course.

“We regard this as a priority issue,” Nzimande said.

The report had highlighted a number of occurrences that revealed the
extent of discrimination. “While the report commends institutions for
initiatives on change, the report unfortunately states that
discrimination, in particular with regard to racism and sexism, is
still pervasive in our institutions.”

It noted there was a disjuncture between institutional policies and
the real-life experiences of staff and students, indicating that the
good intentions of institutions were not fully experienced.

The committee found that the system largely had in place a
comprehensive range of policies dealing with transformation-related

This was especially so with respect to the requirements of employment equity.

The committee came to the conclusion that, in legal and regulatory
terms, the higher education system was compliant with equity demands.

In addition, it noted there were aspects of the system requiring
attention. “There is no doubt that significant policy development has
indeed occurred towards transformation; the next important step is
making those policies work,” Nzimande said.

He had written to the chairs of councils reminding them of their
fiduciary responsibility to their institutions and the higher
education system, and urging them to consider and respond to the

Councils and vice-chancellors had been urged to consider establishing
institution- wide mechanisms to monitor and evaluate the state of
transformation on their campuses.

In addition, the report had been referred to the CHE for advice on
what additional measures could be considered to deepen transformation
and social cohesion in the institutions and education system.

Nzimande said he would soon be meeting with Higher Education South
Africa (Hesa) and would ask them to consider a number of issues.

These included developing a transformation compact between
institutions and the department.

“We can’t leave these matters to chance,” he said.

Hesa should also consider whether vice-chancellors should be held
responsible for transformation and whether this be included in
performance-management contracts.

There was also a need for institutions to consider the extent to which
the curriculum had been transformed to play a role in the
socialisation of students in accordance with the values of the
Constitution, and for broader participation in society.

Proposals regarding student learning needs and the establishment of a
four-year undergraduate degree had been sent to the CHE for advice, as
had proposals on implementing a language policy, Nzimande said.

Nzimande also dismissed media reports that he had advocated free
tertiary education for all as a “deliberate misrepresentation” of what
he had said.

Nzimande said he had in fact suggested free “first tertiary education”
for “poor students”.

In this regard, it would be necessary to look at critical issues such
as “what is poor; who is poor”, he said.

Free tertiary education for all was out of the question at present and
there was no reason why those who could afford to pay should not do
so. It was necessary to focus on those students who genuinely could
not afford to pay or could afford to pay only a portion of the fees.

The main vehicle to achieve government’s goal of free “first” tertiary
education for poor students was the National Students’ Financial Aid
Scheme, he said. The scheme had to be reviewed in order for it to
improve its reach, because many people “fell through the gap”. — Sapa


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